Take Care of Your Ballerina Hair

 Pulling your hair into a ballet bun every day puts a lot of stress and tension on your hair and scalp. Hair designer, Corie Crowley, helps us understand how to take care of your hair (and pamper it) after long dance days of sweat, elastic bands and bobby pins.

Lia Cirio gives her hair a pampering after dancing with Boston Ballet


What effect does pulling your hair into a tight bun every day have on your hair? 

Pulling your hair up with the tension of a bun can be brutal on your hair. If preventative measures aren't taken to protect the hair from regular tension in the same spot every day, the hair can become weak and begin to break.

How can dancers take better care of their hair? 

Using a "prep" product (similar to a leave-in conditioner) to prepare the hair is crucial to hair health. I like Aveda's Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair because it contains quinoa protein. (The quinoa protein repairs broken hair from the inside out. )

Before putting the hair up into a bun, spritz it with water and run the Daily Hair Repair through with your fingers. Also, when removing tangles from the hair make sure to use a paddle brush instead of a comb. It's better for the hair and scalp, and less likely to rip the hair. A soft bristled brush, such as a Mason Pearson Brush, is great for getting a smooth tight bun. (You can find knock offs of this brush at the beauty supply store.)

What are some tips you would tell dancers about basic hair care at the end of their sweaty, tight-bun dancing days? 

Make sure to use conditioner every day, whether or not you shampoo. Shampooing isn't necessary all the time, but conditioning is. Rinse the hair thoroughly to remove sweat and then follow with conditioner. After you get out of the shower, put in a prep product or leave-in conditioner, and brush out tangles using a paddle brush.

Dancers use dry shampoo a lot to take out sweat and grease. Is this OK?

Dry shampoo is great because it allows us to stretch out time between shampoos. As I mentioned earlier, shampooing is overrated. It can strip the scalp of necessary oils that keep your hair soft and healthy. I definitely suggest using dry shampoo if it helps keep the hair looking great between shampoos. Just make sure to check the ingredients and don't use it if it contains anything questionable!

Do you have any tips on different ways to pull hair up and away from the face other than buns? 

A good way to keep tension off of the "ponytail line" of your hair would be to do a low three strand braid at the nape of the neck. This way the rubber band is on the ends of the hair instead, giving the ponytail/bun a break. You can still use bobby pins to pin the braid into a low braided bun if need be.

Should dancers have a basic hair care routine at night? If so, what do you suggest? 

Definitely. A prep product or leave in conditioner is a necessity. I also suggest using a hair oil to keep moisture in the hair. I am obsessed with Aveda's new Dry Remedy Moisturizing Hair Oil. It smells fantastic, doesn't leave the hair weighed down or greasy, and is 98% naturally derived from plants. You can't beat that! You can also do a coconut oil treatment once a week using store bought extra virgin coconut oil. Just massage it into the scalp and hair before you go to sleep, wrap your hair in a silk scarf or bandana, and shampoo out in the morning. Your hair will smell and feel amazing!

What are ways to take care of the scalp?

The coconut oil treatment is my absolute favorite way to pamper the scalp. Coconut oil is great for the skin, and will also help neutralize the pH of the scalp, if there are any dry patches or imbalances.

How To Do a Coconut Wrap:

5 scoops of organic virgin coconut oil in a bowl

Heat it up in the microwave for about a minute

Apply it to the roots, hair, and tips with your hands

You can use Saran wrap as a shower cap 

Leave it on for about an hour, or overnight! 

Tips by: Lia Cirio, Principal dancer with Boston Ballet

How can we protect our hair from breaking from being poked by Bobby pins? 

My best advice is to invest in good bobby pins. You can buy really heavy duty ones from beauty supply stores or online at beauty supply sites. Never use a bobby pin that is missing the rubber stopper on the end! That is the surest way to break your hair. (Everyone go home and toss all your bobby pins with no rubber stoppers!)

Also, when inserting a pin, make sure you have it opened as far as it will go before sliding the flat end onto the scalp. Remember, the flat side of the bobby pin should sit closest to the scalp and the ridged side should grip the hair.

Invest in good product and the right tools and you will notice an immediate difference. And just like you do in dance class, condition condition condition!

Corie Crowley is a San Francisco based hair designer with a passion for beauty that goes back to the tender age of four. Armed with her grandmother's lipstick and a plastic purse filled with rainbow barrettes, she set about on a lifelong journey to paint the world beautiful. She has been a professional glamour technician since 2004, and styling hair has always been her passion. Everything about the world of beauty makes her heart sing, but working with brides is the thing she loves most. Corie specializes in bridal hair and editorial hairstyling. Visit her website: coriedoesmyhair.com, and follow her on Instagram and Pinterest @coriedoesmyhair. 

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